Kansas State pulls off epic comeback at No. 3 Oklahoma, 38-35

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NORMAN, Okla. — Kansas State pulled off one of the greatest come-from-behind victories in school history and defeated Oklahoma, 38-35, Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

The Wildcats defeated the No. 3 Sooners despite trailing 28-7 early in the third quarter while playing without a handful of key players on defense.

A 77-yard pass from Skylar Thompson to freshman running back Deuce Vaughn shifted momentum in K-State’s favor in the second half. All of a sudden, a game that had been controlled by the Sooners was dominated by the Wildcats the rest of the way.

K-State scored touchdowns on four straight drives to tie the game at 35 and then took the lead for good on a 50-yard field goal from Blake Lynch with 4:32 remaining.

Jahron McPherson clinched the victory for the Wildcats when he intercepted a pass from Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler on the Sooners’ final drive of the afternoon.

This is the second straight season K-State has pulled off an upset against Oklahoma, both under coach Chris Klieman. This game was more surprising than the first, because the Sooners were favored by 28 and the Wildcats were not at full strength.

K-State players wildly celebrated the victory by trading hugs and high-fives with a small contingent of fans who made the trip to Norman to watch them play.

The Wildcats (1-1) bounced back beautifully from a loss to Arkansas State in their opener.


Here are some key takeaways from this game:


You have got to hand it to Skylar Thompson after this one. He has a real knack for defeating highly ranked teams.

Much like last season, when he threw for more than 200 yards and rushed for four touchdowns against Oklahoma, he once again put up a monster game on national television.

Thompson completed 18 of 25 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown, while also adding three touchdowns on the ground.

It was an especially good game for Thompson considering he was dealing with some lingering injuries and appeared to be limping at times throughout the afternoon. He showed great poise to lead K-State to victory after a disappointing first half.


It’s hard to ask for much more from a freshman running back than what Vaughn has provided for K-State in his first two college games.

Two weeks after Klieman described Vaughn as the team’s best player against Arkansas State, he kept making big plays against Oklahoma. Vaughn delivered one highlight after the next during the second half of K-State’s comeback against Oklahoma.

The 5-foot-5 running back sparked the Wildcats with a 77-yard catch and run midway through the third quarter, then caught a pass over the middle and made five defenders miss on his way to a 35-yard gain. And then he ran for a 38-yard touchdown that tied the game at 35 in the fourth quarter.

K-State coaches got creative with Vaughn in this one, lining him in the backfield and at receiver. Those moves paid off big-time. With four years of games still in front of him, Vaughn’s potential ceiling seems very high at the moment.


The biggest question mark for K-State coming into this game was in the secondary, where the Wildcats were dealing with the loss of key players like Kiondre Thomas, Lance Robinson and Ryan Henington.

But defensive back was arguably a KSU strength in this one. Defense, overall, was the least of Klieman’s worries Saturday.

Even though Oklahoma churned out yards behind Spencer Rattler, Marvin Mims and Seth McGowan, the Wildcats won the turnover battle 4-0. They made a pair of key interceptions and then came up with a fumble and another interception in the second half.

Elijah Sullivan came up with the first interception when the Sooners tried to catch the Wildcats off-guard with a misdirection play. K-State’s defensive line helped him out by tipping the pass at the line of scrimmage.

Justin Gardner made the second pick on a deep ball from Rattler in the second quarter.

The Wildcats also forced the Sooners to turn the ball over on downs early in the third quarter and then forced a fumble before McPherson closed out the game with an interception.

No one could have reasonably asked for more from K-State’s defense, considering how shorthanded it was in this game.


If there was a disappointing aspect of this game for K-State, it’s the inexperience of K-State’s front five.

It’s been a long time since the Wildcats were penalized this regularly for committing false-start penalties. It’s also been a while since we saw them hand the ball to a running back for a nice gain up the middle.

Even with Noah Johnson back at center against Oklahoma, K-State was unable to run for significant yardage between the tackles. A week after rushing for 91 yards against Arkansas State, the Wildcats managed just 66 yards on the ground against OU.

Perhaps some of that can be attributed to the absence of starting running back Harry Trotter, who did not travel for this game. But K-State also appeared soft at the line of scrimmage in other areas.

One play that illustrated their struggles occurred in the second quarter, when the Wildcats tried to give the ball to Phillip Brooks on an end-around handoff and he was immediately tackled in the backfield by a hoard of OU defenders for a loss of eight yards.


K-State fans were understandably upset after a season-opening loss to Arkansas State, but the future seems much brighter after this upset.

The Wildcats can begin to dream a little about what they may accomplish this season.

Defeating the defending Big 12 champions can change the trajectory of a season that quickly.


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